Barona Resort & Casino Review
Like the Viejas Band, the Barona Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians were displaced off their reservation by the building of the El Capitan Reservoir in 1932, built to supply the City of San Diego with water. Water for San Diego meant that their reservation was now underwater though, and both the Barona and the Viejas Indians, who shared this reservation, were displaced to much smaller lands.
Both Indian Bands have made a very strong comeback since though, and as it turns out, the people of San Diego not only need water, they need to gamble at casinos as well, and this time they didn’t have to move. The Barona Resort and Casino is one of the largest casinos in the United States in fact with 300,000 square feet of gaming space and is very popular.
The resort casino is located in Lakeside, California, just east of San Diego. Although only 30 miles from downtown, Lakeside provides a rural setting and is known for its several ranches, cowboys, and rodeos.
The Barona Resort and Casino opened in 1992, so they got in on the action fairly early on in the development of Indian casinos in California and have built up the property to become one of the premier casino resorts in the area and in the state.
The Barona casino is one of the few casinos that don’t serve alcoholic beverages on the casino floor. Casinos generally like to see their players drink, which tends to loosen up their betting and their play, but the Barona band chose to instead go with a minimum age of 18, and since the drinking age in the state is 21, they can’t serve liquor.
There are several places on site where you can purchase alcohol though, so it’s not that this is a dry resort by any means. The casino rules though do allow them to attract younger people than are normally allowed in casinos. The Barona Indians claim that this rule is due to the windy roads in the area though, and it’s probably true that there would be more drinking and driving on these roads if people could drink in the casino as well.
Although Indian tribes offer casino gambling by exercising their sovereignty, the arrangements are made by the tribes entering into compacts with the state, so they do abide by the liquor laws as well as other rules that may be agreed upon with the state, such as only allowing games based upon using cards, as is the case in California.
So this casino does offer games like craps and roulette, although dice and wheels aren’t permitted, so they use playing cards instead to simulate the action of these gambling games.
The Amenities at the Barona Casino Resort
Although they do get a lot of day players from drive up traffic, this casino does have a good sized hotel by Indian casino standards at least, with 400 rooms. While there are some Las Vegas resorts that have hotels ten times this size and casinos only half the size, in Las Vegas, most of the players come to stay, where here, most drive up although some do spend the night, enough to keep their hotel full.
There are lots of properties that call themselves resorts, but this is a true resort, a place to get away from it all in a beautiful rural setting. It all starts with the hotel rooms, and a lot of their guests are from the San Diego area in fact, where they could just take a short drive home but choose to stay for the experience.
The rooms here are spacious with 428 square feet of living space, and are nicely appointed. While they do call them deluxe rooms, they aren’t up to the standard of the high end casino resorts, but they are still nice and plenty comfortable. They also offer luxury suites up to 3,400 square feet.
The Ambiance Spa offers a wide array of spa and salon services, where players club members receive up to a 20% discount off of their normal rates. Discounts vary by your membership level in Club Barona, and bigger players get bigger discounts, as well as bigger perks in general here.
The resort property also features the Barona Creek Golf Club, one of the best golf courses in the San Diego area and rated the 6th best casino course in the United States. It’s just a few steps away from the hotel so you can walk up and play this one.
Barona also hosts private events, such as business meetings and weddings. Many people come here for the tranquility of the place and this is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the big city, where you can rejuvenate. The landscape here, with the hills and mountains in the background, add to the feel.
The staff here takes a lot of pride in their level of service to their guests and their friendly, award winning staff is there for you to ensure that your stay with them will be most enjoyable and memorable.
Dining options include the Seasons Fresh Buffet, the Sage Café, Italian Cucina, Plaza Grill, Barona Oaks Steakhouse, Ho Wan Noodle Shop, Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwiches, a food court, gameside dining, and 24 hour a day in room dining. They serve up some of the best food you’ll find in the area and have plenty of variety to please everyone.
The Barona Casino
Their spacious casino features 2,000 slot machines and 80 table games, in a 300,000 square foot venue, so this isn’t cramped at all and provides a very comfortable atmosphere to gamble in.
Their slot machines have been rated San Diego’s loosest slots for 5 years in a row. They have a wide variety of choices, from classic reel slots to the latest video slots, lots of video poker, and plenty of progressive jackpot machines.
They call themselves the friendliest casino in San Diego and they work hard to ensure that their players agree.
Club Barona members are rewarded for all their play here and there are four different levels of membership. They offer discounts on everything on the property with your membership, as well as complimentary play.
Their table games are also impressive and there’s 80 gaming tables on hand. Casino Player Magazine gave them the award for the best blackjack in the country, and with all the casinos in the United States, that’s quite an achievement.
All of their blackjack here is double deck with the most player friendly rules you’ll see anywhere. They also feature Blackjack Switch, Chipless Arena, an electronic version of Roulette.
They also have a table version of Roulette which uses a ball and playing cards, as traditional roulette wheels aren’t allowed in California, but this is pretty close to the real thing.
Mega War is a take on Casino War, with more people, more bets, and more fun. Super Fun 21 is a version of Blackjack, and Barona Craps is their version of the game of craps played with playing cards rather than dice, which aren’t allowed at California casinos either.
There’s also 4 Card Poker, Mississippi Stud, Let It Ride, Ultimate Texas Holdem, Burn 20 Blackjack, Dragon Alley, EZ Baccarat, EZ Pai Gow, and Asian Poker. Overall, the table game selection is excellent, especially for a California casino.
They also have an off track betting room and a small poker room with 15 tables, if you are looking to play poker against other players instead of the house. The limits here are nice and low and anyone who is looking to play some real poker will be delighted.
This is a very nice resort casino indeed and one of the finest in the area at the very least.